How to Tighten Electric Fence Wire

An electric fence makes a barrier that people or animals don’t cross because it gives them a short and safe but memorable electric shock. This creates a psychological as well as a physical barrier. Many farmers use an electric fence to keep livestock from straying. As the livestock learn not to touch the fence, it lasts longer than traditional fencing. 

High tensile wire needs to be kept in place to work properly. When tightening electric fence wire, you have to make sure it isn’t too tight or too loose. You don’t want it to break or to trail close to the ground.  

What is an electric fence and how does it work?

An electric fence consists of a number of components. The fence energizer emits a pulse of current and the high tensile wire conducts the power. Insulators insulate the power from the posts so the current won’t flow to the ground. 

An electric fence is designed to create an electrical circuit when it is touched. One terminal of the power energizer releases an electric pulse along the connected wire about once per second. Another terminal connects to a metal rod called the earth spike. When a person or animal touches the wire, this completes the electrical circuit and causes the electric shock. 

Using wire tensioning tools

High tensile fence wire can take a great deal of force without breaking so wire tightening devices have been developed to tighten and loosen the wires. There are different types of wire tightening tools, such as inline strainers, each with advantages and disadvantages. 

The Daisy wheel is probably the most popular way to tension wires for a couple of reasons. The first is because it is less expensive and the second reason is it can be put on the wire without cutting it. The wire slides inside the Daisy wheel and it is turned to tighten the wire. 

When placing wire strainers, it is important to place them correctly or it becomes difficult to get even tension along the fence. A halfway position along the run makes this possible, rather than if one is placed near one end. 

How tight should the wire be?

For most applications, the wires shouldn’t sag between the posts. They should be kept off the ground and at a height that the animals aren’t inclined to jump over them. This doesn’t mean you have to remove every bit of sag and an inch or two won’t make much difference. The only exception is small animal fencing where wires may be much closer to the ground. In this case, you can’t allow the wire to sag to the ground and this can be difficult to manage if the terrain is uneven. 

Putting too much tension on the wires is a mistake. As the wires contract and expand with changing weather conditions, this can put too much pressure on the poles and they could even start coming out of the ground. 

Some other tips for electric fencing

  • Don’t put the fence posts too close together. If the fence posts are too close together, the insulators can break or poles can be knocked out of the ground if an animal runs into the wire. Spreading them far enough part allows the wire to bend and then return to their original position without breaking. 
  • Even a small kink in high tensile wire can be a problem. Avoid hitting this kind of wire with a hammer as it will damage it. Always cut out a damaged section of high tensile wire and splice it if you want to avoid further breakage. 
  • One failed insulator on a steel post can make the whole system ineffective and not give shocks as it should. It is better to buy quality insulators. 
  • You need to install adequate grounding for your energizer, no matter how large or small it is. A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum of three feet or ground rod for each output joule of the charger.
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